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Episode 36: Killer Tissue Box

  • Can a cardboard box in a car become a lethal weapon? mythbusted
  • Splitting an arrow with another: mythbusted

Myth: Can a cardboard box in a car become a lethal weapon?

Woohoo! Car abuse and destruction. Not their best mythbusting, but they got to wreck the Fury.

In an auto accident, if the tissue box is sitting on the back shelf, it can fly forward and hit the driver. The question is, how much damage can it actually do to the driver?

Injuries from objects in cars:

  • 13,000 people were injured in 2001 in the US by 'unrestrained objects'
  • 2 cases in Australia where drivers were imapled through the seat with golf cart umbrella
  • Found a case of a lady killed by her own groceries

The mythbusting borrows heavily from their setup from the driveshaft pole-vaulting myth. Once again they took the 1967 Plymouth Fury out to the old Alameda Naval airstrip, though this time intent on complete destruction. As such, they removed the remote control equipment from the car and instead setup a rig to tow it into the concrete barriers (don't want to lose any valuable electronics).

They built two rigs for this mythbusting. The first was a cart, of sorts, made with a single aluminum i-beam and a diamond plate floor on top. At the front of the cart was a box with ballistics gel to serve as the target. Various items were placed on the back of the cart, ready to fly into the gel when the cart 'crashed.'

The first did some tests towing the sled with the Dodge Ram pickup. First they snapped the cable connecting the Dodge Ram to the sled (just like in the American Graffiti myth). They then wound the cable through the i-beam for a second try, which only resulted in an 18" tear in the i-beam. In a rare occurrence, it was Jamie's choice of the lighter aluminum components for the rig that messed things up.

For the second day of crash testing they decided to slow down to 45mph and and to wrap nylon strapping around the i-beam.

The final setup for this rig was: pickup - towline - crash sled - towline - concrete weight. There was 1000' of slack in the towline between the crash sled and the concrete weight. When the line pulled taut, the sled would detach from the pickup and 'crash.'

Testing with various back shelf objects

They tested with several 'common' objects, some realistic, some ridiculous:

  • Bobblehead: fell over, so no data
  • 1kg Fire extinguisher: didn't do too much damage to the ballistics gel, but it put a dent in the extinguisher. It would probably hurt.
  • Subwoofer: subwoofer was a bit dented.
  • Hatchet: flew blade first into the ballistics gel target and embeded itself all the way through to the other side.
  • Bowling ball: awesome! ripped through the ballistics gel target and in slow mow you could see the ballistics gel wobbling in midair as it was pushed out the back of the box.
  • Kleenex box: accelerated up to 70mph for the Kleenex box. Didn't really do any damage, and at this point they already declared mythbusted.

Death of the Fury

The second rig involved the Fury itself and was a oneshot deal: time for the wrecking of the Fury.

Buster was loaded into the Fury and a single kleenex box was placed in the back seat.

The rig had a slightly different setup:

Pickup truck -> towline -> through concrete barriers -> towline -> Fury

The pickup pulled the Fury into the concrete barrier at 65mph, causing the Fury to shoot upwards in a spectacular fashion. The Kleenex box flew into the headrest instead of Buster, but even so, the cardboard on the kleenex box wasn't even crumpled.

They're all looked jokingly at the data (114.8gs to Buster head from hitting the dashboard), knowing full well that: mythbusted

Myth: Splitting an arrow with another (Errol Flynn Robin Hood)

This myth replayed the classic Errol Flynn Robin Hood challenge: splitting an arrow from nock to tip with another.

How did they do the shot in the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie? They don't actually know, but there was Howard Hill, Hollywood stunt archer. He won 196 field tournaments in a row and he could cut a string at 12 paces, but there's no evidence that he took the actual Errol Flynn shot.

Tory and Kari went to Pacifica Archery in Daly City. There they quickly discovered a whole collection of composite arrows that had been hit in the rear end by another arrow, which is called telescoping. They put the odds of it happening at 1:3000. This collection was not enough to declare mythbusted as they wanted to demonstrate it with wooden arrows as well as complete splitting from nock to tip (the composite arrows don't actually split).

There were two parts to the testing of this myth. One was an in lab test trying to get an arrow to split, and the second was a more half-hearted challenge to find an archer at a Renaissance Fair to do the Robin Hood shot.

Lab tests

Tory was the MythBuster's official archer for the lab tests, using a compound bow that his dad gave him for X-mas. He started off with aluminum arrows and had little luck. Moved a little closer to 15 feet and had a glancing bow, but still not splitting. Tory blames the small arrowhead, but his aim wasn't exactly spectacular. They try to make it easier for Tory by giving him a bigger arrowhead and a target completely stuffed with wooden sticks, but still no luck.

bring on the robot

Grant made an arrow-shooting robot to do what Torry couldn't: shoot accurately and consistently. The first couple of shots were pretty close, but not close enough. They also gave the robot a bundle of arrows to hit, but again they couldn't get anything more than partial splitting.

They went to the slow-motion video to try and explain these results, showing that arrows don't fly straight: they flex and twist in the air. The slow-mo is rather interesting to watch as the arrow looks like it's slithering through the air.

Still looking for clues they got cedar arrow shafts to replace their bundle target, as they wanted to make sure they were using the right type of wood. It didn't make much of a difference: no split arrows from nock to tip.

Giving up on accuracy, they move Grant's robot right up to the arrow tip and fire point-blank. Still, no luck. Kari wants to call it busted out of frustration. They finally note that the arrows are following the grain of the wood out the side of the arrow, and that this was preventing them it from being split nock to tip.

Grant made both a copper and a carbon-fiber guiding channel (basically a sheath around the wooden arrow that the arrow head could follow down) to try and counter the effect of the wood grain. Still, the arrowhead followed the grain and would not split it from nock to tip.

Renfair test

Tory and Kari went to a Renaissance Fair to get plenty of archers

After issuing a MythBusters proclaimation 16 archers volunteered. In a sorry display most of them didn't even hit the bullseye. They fired in unison, and even with all their arrows added to the same target there were no split arrows. They asked some of the archers if they've ever done it, and similar to their lab results, they had some half-split arrows, but none from nock to tip.



I myself have "spit" an arrow. but, as you stated a carbon arrow cannot be split from end to end. rather, even though my bow shoots at 300fps it gets stuck in. by the way, the more correct term among archers is coined "shooting a "robin hood"".

great effort, but even though it is poible,you need to be not only a good archer, but have alot of luck to shoot such anarrow.


I didnt get to see the show of splitting the arrow,my son told me about it but I have seen my father do it(wood,aluminium)shafts.In the 80's Darell Pace did it on the show thats incrediable(aluminium shaft)said he had never done it before that was a lie my father use to shoot with him anyway he missed first shot couldnt believe it second shot bullseye

1) A bow is not a short range weapon. Try a longer shot for less twisting in mid-air.

2) Use a straight-grained arrow, not a cheap milled practice arrow.

3) Find a better marksman.

i hate how they completely destroyed the fury in the killer tissue box myth! it was in perfect condition! not a single flaw!

Myth NOT so busted...

SURREY, B.C. — Mounties in Surrey, B.C., say a woman who died in a car accident last month appears to have been killed by her laptop computer.

Heather Storey, 25, was driving to work March 16 when her vehicle was hit by a tow truck.

Ms. Storey's laptop was sitting unsecured in her back seat and RCMP spokesman Sgt. Roger Morrow says the vehicle's abrupt stop sent the computer flying into the back of Ms. Storey's head.

The force of the blow was so severe that it shattered the computer's screen and bent the frame.

The coroner determined that Ms. Storey died as a result of blunt force trauma.

I just split a carbon arrow at 40 yards. If you want a picture let me know. It split the nock and went down the center of the shaft about 1/3 of the way.

Nathan loses test scores for failing to pay attention to what he reads. The myth in question is the "kleenex box can kill" and THAT is what was busted.

Of course other harder objects (see the ones they listed along with the statistics they quote) can and do kill. No one was suggesting otherwise.

Just watched the show on Hitsory Channel regarding master marksmen. "Top Shot" and they had an archer perform this and he accomplished myth is busted. You can in fact split an arrow.

Hello, my son Noah is 13 yrs old he is an advid bow hunter along with my husband. Noah has recently joined a youth archery group. Durning a pratice he has "Robin Hooded" at 20 yrds 3 different times. He thinks its awesome, but as a parent that has to pay for these carbon arrows, I find it to be getting expensive lol. We all seen it happen and most was in aw about it . Noah just looks and smiles